Editorial – Disappointment Usually Brings Unbelief

“Into the experience of all there come times of disappointment and discouragement, days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of His earth-born children—days when troubles harass the soul till death seems preferable to life. It is at such times that many lose their hold on God, and are brought into the slavery of doubt, the bondage of unbelief. Could we at such times discern with spiritual sight the meaning of God’s providences, we should see angels of God seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a foundation more firm than the everlasting hills; and new faith, new life, would spring into being.” The Review and Herald, October 16, 1913

Job, in the day of affliction and darkness, said to God, “I wish I’d never been born. All these things have happened to me and my grief and fear are too great for me to bear. My life is pointless and I hate it. Please, my God, let me die, and then I will have peace.” (Job 3:1; 6:2, 8–10; and 7:11, 15, 16)

But God did not let Job die, instead giving him a message of hope. “Job, you are faithful and should not fear to live. Misery and suffering are like water that soon washes away. I will make your life to be like the sunshine in the morning. I will keep you safe.” (Job 11:15–19)

Job’s heart was uplifted with implicit trust in the mercy and power of God, and with triumphant rejoicing he declared:

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. … He also shall be my salvation … . For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” Job 13:15, 16; Job 19:25–27

“The Lord … revealed to His servant the might of His power. When Job caught a glimpse of his Creator, he abhorred himself, and repented in dust and ashes. Then the Lord was able to bless him abundantly, and to make his last years the best of his life.” The Review and Herald, October 16, 1913

Inspiration – Walk in the Light

I was shown that God’s people dwell too much under a cloud. It is not His will that they should live in unbelief. Jesus is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. His children are the children of light. They are renewed in His image, and called out of darkness into His marvelous light. He is the light of the world, and so also are they that follow Him. They shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The more closely the people of God strive to imitate Christ, the more perseveringly will they be pursued by the enemy; but their nearness to Christ strengthens them to resist the efforts of our wily foe to draw them from Christ.

I was shown that there was too much comparing ourselves among ourselves, taking fallible mortals for a pattern, when we have a sure, unerring pattern. We should not measure ourselves by the world, nor by the opinions of men, nor by what we were before we embraced the truth. But our faith and position in the world, as they now are, must be compared with what they would have been if our course had been continually onward and upward since we professed to be followers of Christ. This is the only safe comparison that can be made. …

With some the knowledge of their true state seems to be hidden from them. They see the truth, but perceive not its importance or its claims. They hear the truth, but do not fully understand it, because they do not conform their lives to it, and therefore are not sanctified through obeying it. And yet they rest as unconcerned and well satisfied as though the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, as token of God’s favor, went before them. They profess to know God, but in works deny Him. They reckon themselves His chosen, peculiar people, yet His presence and power to save to the uttermost are seldom manifested among them. How great is the darkness of such! yet they know it not. …They mistake the form of godliness for the spirit and power thereof. …

There are some who profess to be Christ’s followers, yet put forth no effort in spiritual things. In any worldly enterprise they put forth effort, and manifest ambition to accomplish their object, and bring about the desired end; but in the enterprise of everlasting life, where all is at stake, and their eternal happiness depends upon their success, they act as indifferent as though they were not moral agents, as though another were playing the game of life for them, and they had nothing to do but wait the result. Oh, what folly! what madness! If all will only manifest that degree of ambition, zeal, and earnestness for everlasting life that they manifest in their worldly pursuits, they will be victorious overcomers. Everyone, I saw, must obtain an experience for himself, each must act well and faithfully his part in the game of life. Satan watches his opportunity to seize the precious graces when we are unguarded, and we shall have a severe conflict with the powers of darkness to retain them, or to regain a heavenly grace if through lack of watchfulness we lose it.

But I was shown that it is the privilege of Christians to obtain strength from God to hold every precious gift. Fervent and effectual prayer will be regarded in heaven. When the servants of Christ take the shield of faith for their defense, and the sword of the Spirit for war, there is danger in the enemy’s camp, and something must be done. Persecution and reproach only wait for those who are endowed with power from on high to call them into action. When the truth in its simplicity and strength prevails among believers, and is brought to bear against the spirit of the world, it will be evident that there is no concord between Christ and Belial. The disciples of Christ must be living examples of the life and spirit of their Master.

Young and old have a conflict, a warfare, before them. They should not sleep for a moment. A wily foe is constantly on the alert to lead them astray and overcome them. Believers in present truth must be as watchful as their enemy and manifest wisdom in resisting Satan. …

The life and spirit of Christ is the only standard of excellence and perfection, and our only safe course is to follow His example. If we do this He will guide us by His counsel and afterward receive us to glory. We must strive diligently and be willing to suffer much in order to walk in the footsteps of our Redeemer. God is willing to work for us, to give us of His free Spirit, if we will strive for it, live for it, believe for it; and then we can walk in the light as He is in the light. We can feast upon His love and drink in of His rich fullness.

Testimonies, vol. 1, 405–409.

Lessons from the Children of Israel, Part IV

There are very few passages of Scripture that can be classified as sad passages, but Numbers 20, for several reasons, is indeed a very sad chapter.

First of all, it is sad because two of Israel’s leaders die. A third leader is told that he will die at a later point in time. This chapter is also sad because of the rebellion that once again manifests itself in the lives of the children of Israel and provokes Moses to such an extent that he loses out in going into the Promised Land. This is to stand as an object lesson not only to people throughout the ages but also to those in positions of leadership throughout history, that every aspect of decorum, attitude, and demeanor must be above all reproach.

It is one thing to kick a hole in a wall of your home, while you are there by yourself, because of the frustrations that you have encountered, but it is completely another thing to kick a hole in a wall while the congregation is watching. Such an action will be held in altogether a different light as far as God is concerned. If there is anything that this chapter tells us, it is that very fact.

As we study this chapter, there is one thing that repeatedly comes through: How are the chosen of God going to react to adverse circumstances? Have you had any adverse circumstances come your way? How did you react to them? The older we become and the more experiences we have, the greater is our accountability in developing refined, Christian characters, so that those who are looking to us for words of encouragement and help will find the highest levels of example. At least it should be that way.

In my experience, as I have watched the adverse behavior of church members, I do not find myself nearly as disappointed as when I see such behavior in those of leadership. When I see those to whom I have looked and held in high esteem fail, because of their own internal passion in how they relate to issues, I am much, much more disappointed.

“Then came the children of Israel, [even] the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.” Numbers 20:1. We need to remember that at this point in time there was almost an entirely new congregation than the one that found themselves at Kadesh when the ten spies gave their reports after scouting the Promised Land. (See Numbers 13.) At the time of their first stop in Kadesh, members of the present congregation were 20 years old or younger. The children of Israel made their wanderings; they experienced the manna falling in the wilderness on every day but the Sabbath day, with a double portion on Friday. Their shoes never wore out, nor did their clothes. This generation experienced all of these miracles and then found themselves back at Kadesh.

“And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it [is] no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither [is] there any water to drink. And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts [also]. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This [is] the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them.” Numbers 20:2–13.

This rebellion occurred because the children of Israel had not yet learned the lessons God wanted them to learn. This generation that now finds itself at Kadesh is a generation that has to go through its own particular test.

Often, we who are parents, having raised our children in the Lord, think that there is a special blessing due us by God. He is expected to work a miracle because of our faithfulness in providing them occasions of worship and rehearsing to them the stories of God’s miracles. We often think that they should, as a result of what we have done, be able to develop Christian characters and be ushered into a life of righteousness without going through their own testing times. It never works that way. Every generation must go through its test. Every individual must be tested, to see if he or she has learned of God to the extent that his or her character is ready for the kingdom of heaven. No one enters into the kingdom of heaven just because they are born of a certain line—their parents are in ministry or in medical work or in church leadership or whatever—without going through the test. Every generation has to have its test. The 40 years, which had been decreed upon the children of Israel as a punishment, were almost over.

Death of Miriam

As the camp was assembled there at Kadesh for the second time, Miriam passed on to her death and was buried there. There is little reference to this. Miriam, of course, was a prophetess of God. Remember, she was the one who, as the older sister of Moses and Aaron, led the singing on the shore of the Red Sea when Pharaoh and his hosts were thrown into the deep. As nearly as we can tell chronologically, Miriam was about 130 years old when she died. There is not much more recorded concerning her life. There may be a reason for that. Like Aaron, Miriam had also sinned greatly in her jealousy regarding Moses. She was probably about 90 years old at that point in time. She should have been old enough to know better.

There is one true lesson in this, even for Moses, and that is that one’s age does not prevent one from sinning. Some people, when referring to righteousness by faith, have jokingly called it righteousness by senility, in that, upon becoming old, an individual becomes unable to have the grasp or comprehension to distinguish between right and wrong. Therefore, they reason, the Lord looks upon the past life and governs accordingly. I do not think that is how God views this situation.

Accountability of Leadership

There is a great deal of significance placed upon the sins of leaders, and those sins bring a greater penalty than the sins of the members of the congregations. I have for some time now been pondering about how we are to relate to leadership today. One of the greatest needs in the historic movement is that of true leadership and organization.

In Scripture, I find that those who have been called to positions of leadership are going to be held to a greater accountability. They are going to be held to a greater accountability, because they have been placed in a position of leadership over the congregation, and they are to lead that congregation in the right way under any and all circumstances.

“The sins of good men, whose general deportment has been worthy of imitation, are peculiarly offensive to God. They cause Satan to triumph, and to taunt the angels of God with the failings of God’s chosen instruments, and give the unrighteous occasion to lift themselves up against God.” The Story of Redemption, 168. Leaders hold a special place in the eyes of God. Not only are they accountable for their own sins, but they are also accountable as to how they influence their congregation and the stands that they take. The congregation is not held to that accountability.

As we read this story of Moses and the children of Israel, there is the tendency for us to look at what Moses did, and say, “I just don’t see it as that bad of a situation.” We have a tendency to make the same rationalization regarding Eve at the tree. “I just don’t see that it was that bad.” But God sees the example that it sets, and we see the consequences of the disobedience. Concerning whether or not Miriam, will be in the kingdom of heaven, the Scriptures are silent. It just says that Miriam died and was buried there. She failed to enter into the Promised Land.

Blinded by Unbelief

The next part of the narrative reads as though there had not been any interval of years. One may perceive that it was the old generation that was at Kadesh just a short time before, but it was a different generation—a generation that had not learned the lessons of the previous generation.

“Just before the Hebrew host reached Kadesh, the living stream ceased that for so many years had gushed out beside their encampment. It was the Lord’s purpose again to test His people. He would prove whether they would trust His providence or imitate the unbelief of their fathers.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 413.

As mentioned before, being raised in a good Seventh-day Adventist home does not guarantee for you a place in the kingdom of heaven. You have no guarantee just because you had the benefit of being raised in that type of home. You must have your own tests. You will be brought through trials to test your own individual experience. God is going to prove every person. If you do not meet a test, if you fall and fail in a test, God is going to bring you right back around, and you will find yourself at the very same place again.

This is basically what happened with the children of Israel. Where had they before failed? The first generation failed at Kadesh. The whole congregation had moved through the experiences of the numerous times God had provided every possible example for them of faithfulness, bringing them around again and again to the same, exact place. God will do that.

These people who had rejoiced that the water was available to them day by day by day, should have rejoiced when it stopped. Why should they have rejoiced when it stopped? Because they were going to enter into the Promised Land. They should have seen this as evidence—a sign to them. This was a sign that they should have understood, just as Jesus tells us, in Matthew 24, “These are the signs that are going to come to pass. Watch for this; watch for that. When you see these things, lift up your head.” They should have known they were getting close to entering the Promised Land. Their wilderness wandering was nearly over.

“Had they not been blinded by their unbelief, they would have understood this. But that which should have been an evidence of the fulfillment of God’s promise was made the occasion of doubt and murmuring.” Ibid. 414. Here, for a short while, was an opportunity for them to walk by faith instead of by sight, but the first trial developed the same, turbulent, unthankful spirit that had been manifested by their fathers. No sooner was the cry for water heard in the encampment than they forgot the hand that had for so many years supplied their wants, and instead of turning to God for help, they murmured against Him.

Missed Learning Opportunity

What a situation for a learning opportunity! It was this generation’s first occasion to be tried, but they had the history of their parents’ generation. When the Israelites had set up camp, during the early days of their freedom, they found that they were without water. (See Exodus 17.) They came to Moses, and at the Lord’s instruction, Moses struck the rock in Horeb and water flowed. Paul says that Rock followed them. That Rock was Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 10:2–4.) Had God supplied their need there? He certainly had.

Now this generation was experiencing the same trial, but something was wrong. They repeated the same sin. That tells me that there was a failure on the part of the older generation to instruct the younger ones as to the blessings of God. It tells me that they perhaps did not have worship together as they gathered around the campfire each evening. They neglected to recount the blessings of God in their past history.

This generation did not know; they did not have enough instruction, so when they faced an experience similar to that of their parents, they did not know what to do. This can happen. Parents can fail to instruct their children as to the faithfulness of God. When the children are brought into trying experiences, they do not know what to do.

There was also a problem with the younger generation that should have been seeking for knowledge—What can you tell me about the faithfulness of God—Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Grandpa, Grandma? What can you tell me? What has been your experience? You have lived much longer than I. They did not learn, nor were they taught.

Discontented Hearts; Reckless Tongues

One thing is for sure. As far as we know, there was a failure. Numbers 20:3 says, “And the people chode with Moses.” They do not just come to Moses with a plea for water. “Moses, I am thirsty. Moses, my animals are panting.” It says, they “chode with Moses.”

To be concluded . . .

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by e-mail at: mikebaugher@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Assurance of the Resurrection

The age in which we live is one of unbelief. There is a saying that a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. There are many people who do not believe that there will ever be a resurrection; however, the Bible evidence is overwhelming.

Paul says, “If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. … We are found false witnesses of God; … For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. … Every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.” I Corinthians 15:13–20, 23.

Paul cites evidence here that because Christ has already risen, it proves the fact that God can raise people from the dead, and there will also be a resurrection of Christ’s children when He returns.

Christ being raised from the dead is one of the most indisputable facts in history because of the many witnesses. About twenty to twenty-five years after the resurrection, Paul said, “He was seen above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present [time], but some are fallen asleep [some have died].” Verse 6.

To establish what is true or false in a courtroom, witnesses are called to testify. In this instance there were over five hundred witnesses, some of whom were still alive and could verify that they had visited with Jesus after He rose.

The Scriptures record that He appeared to different individuals ten times after His resurrection.

  • He appeared first of all to Peter, that is, Cephas. I Corinthians 15:5
  • He appeared to Mary Magdalene. See Mark 16:9
  • He appeared to two disciples as they were walking to Emmaus. See Luke 24:13–15
  • He appeared to all eleven of the apostles the same day. See John 20:19; Luke 24:33–36
  • He appeared to more than five hundred at one time. 1 Corinthians 15:6
  • He appeared to James. I Corinthians 15:7
  • He appeared to the eleven apostles again, one week later. John 20:26
  • He appeared to seven of the apostles while they were fishing. John 21:1
  • His disciples saw Him ascend into heaven. Acts 1:9
  • He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus. I Corinthians 15:8

Evidence – Neither the Jews nor the Romans could produce His body. The Jews claimed that He was never raised from the dead, but dead people don’t walk away. So what happened to the body of Jesus? Nobody could produce a body.

Evidence – At the time of His burial, the tomb was sealed by a Roman seal. Anyone who broke that Roman seal would be in defiance of the Roman government, subject to prosecution, and at the very least, put in prison. But there was no prosecution. Jesus’ disciples were accused of stealing the body, but there was never a prosecution, because the evidence would show that there was not a body to be found.

Evidence – One hundred Roman soldiers who were commissioned to guard the tomb did not all fall asleep at the same time and sleep so soundly that the disciples could come and roll the stone away and steal the body. The penalty for a soldier to sleep while on guard was death, but it is recorded that all one hundred soldiers were so sound asleep that they did not wake while the stone was being rolled away. It just defies all reason.

Evidence – Before the crucifixion, when Jesus was arrested, the disciples were all so afraid that they ran away. Were they suddenly not afraid anymore to steal His body? In Acts 5:29–32 it says, “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” NKJV

The cowardice of the disciples was transformed into an unspeakable boldness. The change in the apostles is one of the strongest evidences for the resurrection. Before the resurrection, they were a group of eleven men who were scared to death and hiding out, but the power of the resurrection empowered them. When brought into courts, they boldly spoke truth, saying, “You are the ones who killed the Lord, but now He is at the right hand of the Father in heaven.”

Evidence – By A.D. 100, it is estimated that between five and ten percent of the people in the Roman Empire were Christians even though paganism attempted over and over again to destroy Christianity. This was because of the evidence of the resurrection of Christ. Because Christ had been raised, the Christians had the assurance that they also would be raised at His Second Coming if they died beforehand.

There are many Bible facts about the resurrection.

The dead will come from definite localities. “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Isaiah 26:19. The people who dwell in dust are those who are in their graves. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice.” John 5:28. They will come out from their graves.

But what about the people who are not buried in graves? Some people have died and have been buried in the sea. “The sea gave up the dead which were in it.” Revelation 20:13. There is not a place that will not give up the dead on that day when they are called—the old English word is quickened. That means that they will be made alive again.

The resurrection is one of the prominent doctrines in the Bible. The first two books of the Bible that were written were the book of Genesis and the book of Job. It is clear in the book of Job that the ancient followers of the true God understood the resurrection. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job 19:25, 26. Job understood that he would see God and have a new body.

David had the same hope. He wrote, “As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake with Thy likeness.” Psalm 17:15.

The New Testament is full of texts about this, since Christ had already risen. “Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” II Corinthians 4:14.

“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I might win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Philippians 3:8–11.

“But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed [paid back] at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:13, 14.

Jesus says there is an exact record being kept of your life. Those who have dedicated their lives to serving others, especially helping others who are unfortunate and in distressing circumstances, will be paid back at the resurrection of the just.

By and by, there will be a big payment for the just. This is encouraging news while living in a world where it seems there is more than enough sorrow to go around. We all do not go through the same trials, and one of the saddest things to deal with is the loss of a child. Some very dear friends of ours lost all of their five children from smoke inhalation when their house caught on fire. They believe in the resurrection and look forward to the hope they have in raising their children in a perfect environment when they get to heaven.

“Thus saith the Lord, A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord, Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.” Jeremiah 31:15–17.

This event will be fulfilled when Jesus comes back. The apostles constantly wrote about the Second Coming of Christ. They knew that when Jesus returns, the dead will be raised and reunited with their loved ones.

Before the ascension, Jesus promised His disciples that, “In My Father’s house are many mansions [permanent dwellings] … I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2, 3.

In the book of Ezekiel, the resurrection is described in symbolic language. “Then He said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put My Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it.” Ezekiel 37:11–14.

The resurrection is a wonderful subject. It thrills us to think about it and gives us hope, because we all have had friends and loved ones who have died. However, Jesus made it very clear, and we need to remember, that not everybody who is raised will be raised to eternal life.

“The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice.” John 5:28. But notice what Jesus says in verse 29: “And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

The Bible is very clear in both the Old and New Testaments that not everybody raised will be raised to eternal life. The Jews believed this. While on trial and speaking about the Jews, Paul said, “And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:15.

Daniel expressed, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2. Revelation 20 points out specifically that there will be two resurrections one thousand years apart and calls those who have a part in the first resurrection “blessed and holy” (verse 6).

The first resurrection is a resurrection unto eternal life, never having to suffer the second death. But “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (verse 5). At the end of the thousand years a second resurrection will take place. “Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,” and there will be people “to deceive” once more (verses 7, 8). The number of these people are as the sand of the sea. “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Verses 12–15.

The most important question of all is how to have assurance of being part of the first resurrection. The person who has a part of the first resurrection is described with two words. They are blessed and they are holy (Revelation 20:6).

A powerful text on that very same subject is Hebrews 12:14: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Those who are raised in the first resurrection must be holy persons.

The next question is, If I have to be holy, what does that mean? Some people say, “O, that’s what God is like.” Well, Jesus said that if you have seen Me, you have “seen the Father” (John 14:9). In Hebrews 7:26, Jesus is described as holy, so if you study the life of Jesus, you will find the meaning of holiness.

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Romans 7:12. In the context of this text, Paul is specifically referring to the Ten Commandments. Quoting the tenth commandment, he says, “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy.” This is not complicated; a holy person’s life will be in harmony with the Ten Commandments. The thoughts, feelings, words and actions of a holy person will be in harmony with the Ten Commandments, because the law is holy and an unholy person is one whose life is not in harmony with the Ten Commandments. It is so simple that a child can easily understand.

How can you have assurance that you will be in the first resurrection if you should die before Jesus comes? “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” II Peter 3:14. “Without spot” is an analogy, or a description, using the symbolism of clothing. When clothes become soiled, they are washed to remove the spots and then ironed to remove the wrinkles. So the Bible uses this analogy. Paul says, “… that He might present her [the church] to Himself a glorious church, not having spot [unstained] or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27, NKJV). The church that Christ presents to His Father is without spot or wrinkle; it has been made clean.

It is God’s purpose to remove every spot and every wrinkle so we need to pray that God will send His Holy Spirit to reveal them and give us the power to overcome. I can’t explain how this happens. All I know is that the Bible says it, and it is so.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6. It is the Lord who is going to finish the work that He has started in your life.

James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers [various] temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2–4. God will have a people who will be perfect and entire when Jesus comes. They will be holy, with no spots, no wrinkles, and no blemishes. To get to that point, there will be many various temptations to overcome, but “count it all joy.”

Time is running out, and unlike Enoch, God will not have three hundred years to accomplish His work. He has to speed up the process. A holy character is perfected through the process of trials and temptations.

If you want to be perfect, if you want to be ready for Jesus to come, the Spirit of Prophecy needs to be confirmed in your life. “As the testimony of Christ [that is the Spirit of Prophecy] was confirmed in you: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 1:6, 8. The people who are going to be blameless will have been confirmed in the Spirit of Prophecy.

God will have a perfect people. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” II Timothy 3:16, 17. This is the key to Protestant thinking and one of the main texts in the New Testament upon which we base our belief. It would be wise to study it carefully to get its full impact and power.

We want to be sure we acknowledge the truth gently and tactfully. It is not unkind to acknowledge the truth. For hundreds of years the Roman Catholic Church has claimed that to reach spiritual perfection, the Scriptures are not enough. They have claimed that in addition to the Scriptures, oral traditions, the sacraments of the church, and various religious exercises are needed in order to have spiritual perfection. The most famous group within the Catholic Church that has perfected spiritual exercises is the Jesuit order. They are actually called spiritual exercises, and after taking them, a person is supposed to be on a higher spiritual level than anybody else in the world.

Some of the people who have taken these spiritual exercises have committed the most violent and awful crimes of anybody who has ever lived. As Protestants, we do not believe that Catholic teaching and do not believe that a minister or a church organization or any Christian organization or group can add something to the Bible in order to become spiritually perfect.

Paul draws attention to what is inspired of God—the Scriptures. The purpose of the Scriptures is that the man of God may be perfect. That is the basis of Protestant teaching.

The Bible is like a cup that is clear full of water. It has everything necessary to arrive at spiritual perfection. If anything is added to it, it will spill over and something will be taken away from it.

You cannot add to the Bible. The wise man said, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it.” Ecclesiastes 3:14. In other words, nothing can be added to it nor can anything be taken from it. When God has given us His book, the book is complete.

There are some people who believe that it is impossible to overcome and that you are going to go through your whole life sinning, but as long as you just confess your sins every day, you will be saved. It is true that confessed sins will be forgiven. But you cannot go through life living like the devil, just confessing your sins, and be in the first resurrection. The Bible, the New Testament, does not teach that.

“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly [without being intoxicated], righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2:12. This is “the grace of God that bringeth salvation” (verse 11). And the grace that brings salvation teaches us that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. To be in the first resurrection, we must live like this in the present world.

Ellen White wrote to a married man who was in real trouble in his family: “How long a time are you designing to take to prepare to be introduced into the society of heavenly angels in glory? In the state which you and your family are in at present, all heaven would be marred should you be introduced therein. The work for you must be done here. This earth is the fitting-up place. You have not one moment to lose. All is harmony, peace, and love in heaven. No discord, no strife, no censuring, no unloving words, no clouded brows, no jars there; and no one will be introduced there who possesses any of these elements so destructive to peace and happiness. Study to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on everlasting life.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 705, 706.

The resurrection is the most exciting subject in the world, if you are ready. If you want to be ready, you need to live soberly, righteously and godly now. You need to be preparing. You need to be praying. The Bible says that we need to pray for each other so we will be healed and so that we will be ready.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Keys to the Storehouse – Strange Infatuation

One of the meanings for the word infatuation is unreasoning admiration or love. There is a strange infatuation, a strange unreasoning admiration or love for the things that Satan presents. What is it that makes the words of the great deceiver more attractive to the majority of people than the word of God? What makes them even more attractive to even those professing Christianity at times? Is it that unreasoning admiration—that strange infatuation?

“The Majesty of Heaven in tears! the Son of the infinite God troubled in spirit, bowed down with anguish! … Jesus, looking down to the last generation, saw the world involved in a deception similar to that which caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of Christ; the great sin of the Christian world would be their rejection of the law of God, the foundation of his government in Heaven and earth. … Millions in bondage to sin, slaves of Satan, doomed to suffer the second death, would refuse to listen to the words of truth in their day of visitation. Terrible blindness! strange infatuation!” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 23.

You must not be entangled in this strange infatuation—for it is very deadly and will cause your eternal death if not recognized. We need to know and understand the word of God now to escape the deception, which leads to eternal death.

Remember: “The one who promised Adam life in disobedience was the great deceiver. … ‘Ye shall not surely die;’ and this declaration, resting solely upon the authority of Satan, is echoed from the pulpits of Christendom, and received by the majority of mankind as readily as it was received by our first parents. The divine sentence, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die’ (Ezekiel 18:20), is made to mean, The soul that sinneth, it shall not die, but live eternally. We cannot but wonder at the strange infatuation which renders men so credulous concerning the words of Satan, and so unbelieving in regard to the words of God.” Ibid., 353.

You do not want to be part of those blinded by this strange infatuation because they will at the last day say: “ ‘All this,’ cries the lost soul, ‘I might have had; but I chose to put these things far from me. Oh, strange infatuation! I have exchanged peace, happiness, and honor, for wretchedness, infamy, and despair.’ All see that their exclusion from Heaven is just. In their lives they declared, We will not have this Jesus to reign over us.” Ibid., 483.

“Although some are so estranged from God that they do not recognize His voice, though a strange infatuation leads them in their perversity of heart to strive against the manifestations of the Spirit of God, let not those who are striving earnestly to do the work and will of God become discouraged. Let each work earnestly, prayerfully, holding his torch in his hand, shedding light upon willing and unwilling eyes. Having their orders from heaven, they are to be true and faithful, in all things representing the compassion of Christ.” Pamphlet, 149, 51.

“Doubters, unbelievers, and skeptics turn the truth into a lie.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 360.

Are you turning the truth into a lie by professing to live for Jesus but listening to the devil’s lie? Oh, strange infatuation!

(All emphasis supplied.)

Father: Preserve me from turning the truth into a lie in my life. Give me spiritual discernment. I never want to exchange peace, happiness, and honor, for wretchedness, infamy, and despair. Preserve my soul from Satan’s lies that I may not fall under the spell of this strange infatuation that strives against the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and leads to eternal loss and death. Amen.

Evidence Against Unbelief

When crisis develops among God’s people, sometimes it is necessary to talk about things that we would not otherwise discuss.

Let us begin with a statement from The Desire of Ages, 458. It says, “God does not compel men to give up their unbelief. Before them are light and darkness, truth and error. It is for them to decide which they will accept. The human mind is endowed with power to discriminate between right and wrong. God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from the weight of evidence, carefully comparing scripture with scripture.”

The fact that a decision must be made based on the weight of evidence means there is evidence to be considered on both sides of the argument. This also implies that you do not know everything. Because God does know everything, He does not need to make a decision based on the weight of evidence. The apostle Paul said, “We know in part, and we prophesy in part.” I Corinthians 13:9, NKJV.

In weighing the evidence, for what should we look? We are told in The Great Controversy, 595, that, “God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils [all church councils], as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.”

It is very important to know what the word of God actually teaches and commands. Those who do not understand this principle can get misled on subjects, for example, the state of the dead.

We are living in interesting times. Ellen White said that the time would come when every wind of doctrine would be blowing. I cannot help but wonder if we are not living in that time now. There are many deceptive doctrines floating around today, and our only safety is to stand on the word of God.

There is a Scripture that has been confusing to many Seventh-day Adventists. It is something that we need to understand because we are facing a soon-coming Sunday law crisis, not just in the United States but worldwide, and this passage will be used against all Seventh-day Adventists. For this reason it needs to be understood. Many theologians who have written books believe that the Christian Sabbath has been changed to Sunday, and the passage of Scripture that we are going to study is one of their main proof texts.

To understand this text, attention must be given to the antecedents of the pronouns that are used. Many people get in trouble while reading their Bibles because of the use of pronouns. The apostle Paul is an expert at this, and careful attention must be given to what the pronoun refers or we can draw all kinds of conclusions to the text. We are going to look at the antecedent of the pronoun.

Reading Colossians 2:14 from the Greek New Testament, Paul talks about “wiping away the handwriting of the ordinances which was against us, which was contrary to us. And He took it out of the midst (out of the way), nailing it to the cross. And having stripped the rulers and the authorities, He made a display of them in public, boldly triumphing over them in Himself.”

Immediately you should know that the apostle Paul is not referring to the Ten Commandments here, as they were not handwritten. Moses, the prophets and the apostles all wrote by hand. The Bible is inspired, and handwritten, but the Ten Commandments were not handwritten.

It is recorded only three times in the Bible where God wrote something. Every time it says explicitly how He wrote—with His finger. One time He wrote in stone (Exodus 31:18). One time He wrote on a wall (Daniel 5:5), and one time He wrote on the ground (John 8:6). God doesn’t use handwriting; He writes with His finger.

Some may argue that your finger is on your hand, but your finger is not your hand. My late brother, while a teenager living on a farm, was involved in a tractor accident. His little finger was cut in such a way that it was just hanging by the skin. Though he was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery to sew the finger back on and reattach the nerves, it had been too long since it was cut off, and the next day that finger was dead. So, he had to go to surgery again to have it cut off. Though my brother lost the end of that finger, he didn’t lose his hand. Your hand and your fingers are two different things.

Whatever the ordinance in Colossians 2:14 is referring to, it has been wiped away. The term wipe away means to be abolished, not existent anymore. Not only that, these are called ordinances which could also be translated as decrees. These ordinances, Paul says, were against us, contrary to us, and they were taken out of the midst. In other words, they were removed. They were nailed to the cross.

Are there ordinances that were nailed to the cross? Yes, that is what this Scripture says. These ordinances, Paul says, were against us, they were taken out of the midst, and they were blotted out or abolished. Because of this, the apostle Paul now is going to draw some conclusions. Notice what he says in verse 16: “Therefore [because of what I’ve told you already, this is the conclusion], do not let anyone judge you in food or in drink, or concerning a feast or a new moon or of sabbath days.”

Our Protestant friends get in trouble because they stop right there. We can get into trouble with documents if we just read to the middle of the sentence. Paul has mentioned five things: eating, drinking, feasts, new moons, and sabbaths, but that is just the first part of the sentence. The next part of the sentence, “which are shadows of things to come,” follows in verse 17. He is not condemning eating or drinking or feasts or new moons or sabbaths. What he is saying is, “Don’t let anybody judge you concerning these things which are shadows of things to come, but the body of Christ.” It could be translated, “but the body is of Christ.”

Let us stop there before we continue. In the Old Testament there were ordinances that had to do with eating. At certain times of the year it was forbidden to eat leavened bread. There were even food offerings. Paul told the Colossians not to let anybody judge them in regard to these things with eating, which were a shadow of things to come.

There were also ordinances in the Old Testament in regard to drinking and also feast days. (See Leviticus 23.) Some of these feast days were called sabbaths. There were also ordinances in regard to new moons. Paul says, “Don’t let anybody judge you in regard to these things which are a shadow of things to come.”

He continues, “Let no one pass judgment on you, wishing in humility and worshiping of angels which he has seen.” Verse 18. However, some manuscripts say, “worshiping of angels which he has not seen, pushing in vain, puffed up by his fleshly mind and not holding the Head from whom all the body through the joints and bands having been supplied and having been fitted together will grow with the growth of God. If then you died with Christ from the fundamental principles of the world, why, as living in the world, are you under ordinances?” Verses 18–20.

That’s a serious question. Christ was the fulfilling of these things. Paul is talking about the ordinances he has just mentioned, the ordinances that have to do with eating, drinking, feast days, new moons, and sabbath days which are a shadow of things to come. Then he makes a really strong statement. Do you remember back in the Garden of Eden what God told Adam and Eve about the forbidden fruit? I want to tell you, most Adventists have not come to grips with what we are going to read now in the Bible from verse 21. This is strong. I didn’t write it, but this is how it reads in the literal translation; “Do not touch, do not taste, do not finger.” In other words don’t even touch it with your fingertips. Some translations say: “Do not handle. Do not touch it. Do not taste it. Do not even put your finger on it, which things are all unto corruption in the using according to the injunctions and teachings of men.” Verses 21, 22.

In verse 23, the phrase “which things” is used. What are these things? Well, they are the ordinances that have been nailed to the cross. Paul says, “Don’t touch these things. Don’t taste them. Don’t even put your finger on it. They have a reputation, indeed of wisdom, in self-imposed worship.”

You see, when God hasn’t commanded something and you do it anyway, that is not of God; it is not divinely directed worship; it is self-imposed worship. “Which things have a reputation, indeed of wisdom, and self-imposed worship, in humility, and severe treatment of the body, not in any honor, but for the satisfaction of the flesh.” Verse 23.

These ordinances, that God gave to His people in the Old Testament, had been covered up with a mass of human tradition which made it almost impossible even for the Jews to keep. And then, there were teachers trying to get the Christians to keep all this tradition that the Jews had come up with over several hundred years since the captivity. Paul says not to have anything to do with it for it is man-made.

Many people confuse the moral law with the ceremonial law and use the same argument used by the Roman Catholic Church in their objection to Protestantism. Paul said, “Therefore, brothers, stand and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether through word or letter from us.” II Thessalonians 2:15.

The Roman Catholic Church believes there are two kinds of tradition—verbal and written. They believe that the oral tradition they have that was handed down from the apostles is even more important than the written tradition—the New Testament. There are Adventists today using this same argument, insisting that the feast days should still be kept; however, decisions cannot be based on apostolic tradition but on a “thus saith the Lord.”

Adventists sometimes have done the same thing with Ellen White. I have received material that asks, Did you know that Ellen White, at a certain date, drank some cocoa? The tradition of Ellen White is not the standard of what to believe or how to eat. I look to the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy to find those instructions.

I once read an account of a pope back in the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages. He had fathered a child by adultery and attempted to justify himself by claiming he was not more holy than David or Solomon who both made many mistakes and still wrote part of the Old Testament.

There are other texts that people misinterpret. Paul, giving a defense before a judge, said, “And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets.” Acts 24:12–14, NKJV. Those advocating keeping of the feasts believe that because the ordinances of feasts were written “in the law and in the prophets,” Paul still kept them. Paul understood what those ordinances pointed forward to, and he kept the ordinances in the antitype, not the type, because Christ had already died on the cross.

Every single one of the feasts has an antitype.

The Passover—This was the first feast of the year. The antitype of the Passover is found in I Corinthians 5, and this is one of the principle passages about which people are really confused. This is the story of a man who was living with his father’s wife. Though Paul was absent, he told them he was there in spirit and very clearly said that the man needed to be disfellowshiped because of his open sin. (See I Corinthians 5:1–5.) In this context he said, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” The little leaven—this man’s sin in living with his father’s wife—would affect the whole lump, the whole church, so he must be removed. “Therefore purge out the old leaven [disfellowship this person] that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.” A church that is unleavened is a church that does not allow a member to be living in open sin and remain a member of that church. “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.” Verses 6–8, NKJV. Taken out of context, some believe this to mean that we are supposed to keep the feast days.

In The Desire of Ages, 652, when Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, Ellen White wrote: “Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. [One was the Passover and one was the Lord’s Supper.] He, the spotless Lamb of God, was about to present Himself as a sin offering, that He would thus bring to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to His death. As He ate the Passover with His disciples, He instituted in its place the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice. The national festival of the Jews was to pass away forever. The service which Christ established was to be observed by His followers in all lands and through all ages.”

Paul speaks of the Lord’s Supper when he says that Christ is our sacrifice. “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Verse 8, NKJV.

“When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul which they could not prove, while he answered for himself, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.’ ” Acts 25:7, 8, NKJV. This is claimed as further proof that Paul continued to keep the feasts; however, it is not a clear “thus saith the Lord” and stretches the meaning of the verse like all other passages brought forth in this instance. The apostle Paul well understood what those feast days represented. The Passover represented the sacrifice on the cross.

The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost—This represented the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s children that would occur 50 days after the first.

The Feast of Trumpets—This represented the prediction of prophecy of the worldwide awakening concerning the Second Advent movement that happened in the later part of the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth centuries.

The Day of Atonement—We believe in keeping this festival in the antitype. We are at present living in the real Day of Atonement. A careful study of the Bible will reveal that we do not get involved in any other feast while in the Day of Atonement. The literal translation from the Greek New Testament of these texts says, “Neither in the law of the Jews, neither unto the temple or Caesar have I sinned anything at all.”

Sin is the transgression of the law—the Ten Commandments. If it was sin to break the ceremonial law, even Jesus Christ would have been a sinner, because in both the gospel and in the book The Desire of Ages He did not keep every aspect or specification of the ceremonial law at all times. For example, Jesus touched a leper, which was not in accordance with the ceremonial law that declared the leper unclean. (See Matthew 8:2, 3; Mark 1:40, 41.)

Another argument in favor of the feasts is Acts 28:17, NKJV, which says, “It came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: ‘Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.’ ”

Paul did not lie here if he did not keep the ceremonial law because he did continue to keep those ceremonies, but in the antitype. In Acts 18:21, it does read that Paul kept the ceremonial feast in Jerusalem. However, when I looked up that verse in my Greek New Testament, I was shocked to find the evidence is just not there. The footnote in the Greek New Testament reads that this statement didn’t even appear in any of the ancient manuscripts and is absent from several of the oldest translations.

Another so-called proof text is found in Acts 20:16 where Paul hurried to be in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. To be there was not a command to keep the feast. What if I said to somebody that I want to be in Atlanta for Thanksgiving? Is that a command to keep Thanksgiving as a holy day? Not at all. The Jewish Christians had planned the whole year around these different ceremonial feasts. Time was measured by them, and they would talk about before or after Passover, before or after the Feast of Trumpets, before or after the Atonement. The apostles could use that language and say they would be in such a place by this time. It certainly is not a command to keep these feast days as they were kept prior to their fulfillment at the cross of Calvary.

There are some who say they have evidence from the early Christian literature that the twelve apostles, not Paul but the others, kept the ceremonial law. In the book, Sketches from the Life of Paul by Ellen G. White, she says very clearly that among the Christians, the apostle Paul was thought to be a teacher of dangerous doctrines. She makes it very clear in that book, and also in The Acts of the Apostles, 199, that the apostle Paul had to stand alone amongst even the apostles.

The apostles of Jesus were very slow to understand the significance of what had happened when Jesus was crucified and, as such had fulfilled the ceremonial law, making it no longer in effect. There were many of the apostles that probably continued to keep the entire ceremonial law for the rest of their lives, which was a mistake on their part. Do you want to rest your faith on a mistake that somebody else made?

Ellen White says that the apostle Paul so desired to bring harmony and unity into the Christian church that at the end of his life he made a mistake. It is recorded in Acts 21:20–24 NKJV: “And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law [ceremonial law]; but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them.’ ” In other words, show respect for the ceremonial law so we can have peace. The apostle Paul did what the apostles suggested, and it was the reason he was taken prisoner, cutting short his ministry.

Ellen White says definitely over and over again that it was a mistake. Do you want to base your religion on a mistake that Paul made or on a mistake that the apostles made?

The apostles were human just like us, and they made mistakes. I would never make a decision whether or not to drink cocoa on the basis that Ellen White at one time was seen to drink a cup of cocoa, would you? That is a dangerous way to make a decision. The answer to the question is, “What does God say in His Inspired word?” That should be the only basis for decisions.

“The very priests who ministered in the temple had lost sight of the significance of the service they performed. They had ceased to look beyond the symbol to the thing signified. In presenting the sacrificial offerings they were as actors in a play. The ordinances which God Himself had appointed were made the means of blinding the mind and hardening the heart. God could do no more for man through these channels. The whole system must be swept away.” The Desire of Ages, 36. This subject here is made clear in very strong language.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts quoted are literal translation.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.